BREAKING: Former Sec. of State Linda McCulloch Pens Letter to SoS Jacobsen; “Your office has failed in its most basic duties.”

Hadley Stack2022, Jacobsen, News

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, May 16, 2022

CONTACTHadley Stack: 845-891-6810 [email protected]

BREAKING: Former Sec. of State Linda McCulloch Pens Letter to SoS Jacobsen; “Your office has failed in its most basic duties.”

Voters cannot look up their Congressional District with three weeks until primary

Helena, MT – Today, former Secretary of State Linda McCulloch, who served from 2009-2017, sent a letter to current Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen, calling on Jacobsen’s office to swiftly correct serious flaws in their system. Currently, neither voters nor campaigns can look up which congressional district a voter belongs to, and with the primary just three weeks away, Secretary McCulloch’s letter serves as an urgent call to action. [See the full letter]:

Dear Secretary Jacobsen,

One of the most important responsibilities of Montana’s Secretary of State is administering elections and voter registration. I should know– I served as Montana’s Secretary of State from 2009-2017. Well-run elections are the bedrock of any great democracy, which is why it is so troubling that your office has failed in its most basic duties.

This year for the first time in decades, Montana has two congressional districts, and voters have finally begun to receive their ballots. However, if a voter happens to be living close to or along the congressional district boundary, they may have no idea which district they will be voting in, especially if they’re not on the absentee list. That is because there is currently no easy tool for a voter to identify which congressional district they belong to.

Your office has this information. County clerks have put in the work determining which voters live in each Congressional district and entered that information in the Montana Votes system to assign the correct ballots to voters. And yet, you have not released this data to the public.

Not only do voters not have access to this information, but the campaigns competing in these districts don’t have access either. Your office has not added a field to the public voter file that lets campaigns know which voter lives in which district, like the Secretary does for all 150 legislative districts in Montana.

It is not unrealistic to imagine a scenario where a voter– who has watched campaign ads and received mailers for both MT-01 and MT-02– will not know which district they are voting in until they receive their ballot or show up to their polling place.

There is an easy fix to this problem: update the public voter file to include a Congressional District tag and add a Congressional District field on the “My Voter Page– the state’s public voter information site– so voters can easily look up their district.

Thomas Jefferson famously said “a well-informed electorate is a prerequisite to democracy.” How can our electorate be well-informed if they aren’t even informed of which district they live in? Montana voters deserve a swift correction to your office’s mistake.

Sincerely,

Linda McCulloch
Montana Secretary of State, 2009-2017

 

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